You have to be on the ball to score tickets to Glenstone, the modern art museum sprawling gloriously over 300 acres in Potomac, MD. Even pre-Covid, passes were hard to get. They are released on the first of every month for timed-entry admission for the following two months. So, tickets that are released tomorrow, April 1, will be for visits in May and June. This takes some patience and planning, but I promise it’s worth it. [Update: They now offer Guaranteed Admission for students age 12+, active-duty military personnel, and staff from other museums — and one guest can join them.]
Glenstone is more than just a museum; it’s a whole experience. One that transports you to what feels like a destination far, far away from the city. Both indoor galleries (that should start to reopen April 8) and expansive grounds showcase a remarkable collection and traveling exhibits that are interesting, evocative, and beautiful. Design and architectural features are practically works of art themselves, and you will likely find yourself studying lines of the buildings and the pool of aquatic plants in the courtyard as much as the paintings and sculptures.
Exploring all of it on foot in the galleries and along paved paths spanning through open grassy areas, trails winding through woods, and boardwalks that zigzag over thick brush (or straw during cold months) add some recreation to the outing. It’s like an art-filled hike or an active art adventure. There’s also a cafe to make it a lunch date or to enjoy a snack in a very scenic setting.
Pick up a paper map on your way in or scan a QR code for one. You definitely want to know where you’re going as some of the outdoor installations are a bit hidden, and you don’t want to miss them. Inside, the galleries are numbered, so make sure you count them all off, too. There’s at least one that is easy to miss, and we had to search a bit to find it (though that also added some extra fun).
With its 12-and-older age policy for visitors, Glenstone is automatically a spot for the T(w)een Scene. And while this may be a bummer to parents with younger kids, I get why they do it. It’s not just that the art might be considered sophisticated for little ones. (In the “eye of the beholder” vein, I think all art could be enjoyed and appreciated on some level by every age.) Part of the Glenstone experience is the peaceful, “contemplative environment,” as they call it. I could see it being tough to keep kiddos from wanting to bolt through wide open spaces outside and use inside voices in the echoing galleries. I’ve been a few times sans kids, with friends, and on my own — a different season each visit — and I highly recommend it for a grown-up outing, whether a day date, a visit with friends, or solo.
That said, both of my kids are finally old enough to go, and I’m looking forward to bringing them. I had tickets for all us to visit when they had a day off from school recently, but a crazy downpour that day thwarted those plans. Thus, I’ll be online tomorrow trying to score those elusive tickets again.
Glenstone is located at 12100 Glen Road in Potomac, MD. It’s currently open Thursday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm. You must have a ticket to visit. As mentioned, free tickets are released the first day of every month at 10am for the following two months. Photography is not permitted indoors, hence all the outdoor images here.